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Back-to-school season is here. While you are gathering the necessary school supplies, like new clothes and back packs, make sure you schedule an appointment with your child’s healthcare provider for their annual wellness visit. As part of this visit your child may receive a recommended vaccine.

Schools are a prime venue for transmitting vaccine-preventable diseases, and school-age children can further spread disease to their families and others with whom they come in contact. For example, they can spread disease to vulnerable newborns too young to have received the maximum protection from the recommended doses of vaccines, or people with weakened immune systems, such as some people with cancer and transplant recipients who are also at higher risk of disease. Are you interested in learning your local school’s immunization rates? Check out the data to find out more.

Measles is an example of one vaccine-preventable disease that can spread easily in an unprotected community. Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, nine out of 10 people around him or her will also become infected if they are not protected. An infected person can spread measles to others even before knowing he or she has measles – up to four days before the telltale measles rash appears. While some people might mistakenly think that measles is “just a little rash,” there can be very serious side effects from measles, including hospitalization, pneumonia, lifelong brain damage, and even death.

When a child comes down with a disease such as measles, whooping cough, chickenpox or the flu, he or she may miss a lot of school while recovering – and somebody will need to stay home to provide care and make trips to the doctor.

You can keep track of your child’s vaccines by following a recommended immunization schedule, which your healthcare provider can discuss with you. As your child progresses through school, make sure to keep up with the Massachusetts School Immunization Requirements, as vaccine requirements vary by grade level. Check out this easy to read Back to School Pup to see what your child needs at different ages.

If you haven’t already, check your child’s immunization record and schedule a visit to their physician or clinic.

Written By:


Immunization Outreach Coordinator in the Bureau of Infectious Disease

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